In the height of her latest EP, ‘Rolling Up the Welcome Mat’ blowing up online, it seems ridiculous to be able to say that we headed along to see Kelsea Ballerini take to the stage in one of Glasgow’s smaller capacity venues, but I’m lucky enough to say that it is in fact true.
Having been a fan of Kelsea since 2016, and having only seen her play as part of C2C Festival in the OVO Hydro before – I was personally ecstatic when she announced a short run of intimate shows across the UK for the beginning of, what’s looking to be, her biggest year so far.
Following support act Georgia Webster’s set full of crowd favourites (X’s, Tattoo’s, Push & Pull) Kelsea Ballerini took to the stage in the packed-to-the-rafters QMU to power through an impressive 23 song set, filled with energy and emotion.
A perfect mix of tracks from albums old and new – pop to country and back again. A particular surprise for the crowd was a mash up of ‘Love Is A Cowboy‘ and the Chicks’ hit ‘Cowboy Take Me Away‘ after paying homage to her first album by playing ‘Dibs,’ ‘Yeah Boy’ & ‘Love Me Like You Mean It’ back to back.
The on stage graphics were that of an American star on an arena tour – a detail usually avoided in such a small venue, but instead of distracting from the music, they added even more character and story to the already expressive lyricism that Kelsea’s fans know and love.
In the week before the gig, Ballerini dropped her most personal EP yet, ‘Rolling Up the Welcome Mat.’ Going viral on social media & releasing a ‘tell all’ interview with the ‘Call Her Daddy’ podcast; Kelsea’s home life has become blasted even more into the limelight and in these heart-wrenching songs, she explains about her marriage falling apart & picking herself back up through it. Eager to hear these tracks live, I didn’t hold much hope as – if you listen to the intimacy & emotion in them – they must be extremely hard to perform to a crowd full of strangers, however, taking a seat on stage, Kelsea held every ounce of attention in the room as she powerfully sang through ‘Penthouse.’ Before the end of the song, the crowd had erupted into supportive cheers & claps, and the relief of getting through it to a positive response flooded the singers’ face.
Obviously excited to be on stage so close to her fans, Kelsea’s interaction with the crowd was a delightful watch. Coming back to the stage for her encore she explained that she related to everyone in the room when it comes to being a ‘fangirl’ and wanting to see your favourite artist, stripped back and up close. And that’s exactly how she ended her set.
The first encore track ‘What I Have’ was played by Kelsea alone on stage with her guitar, and as the band re-joined her on stage for a further three tracks, she bounced into the crowd and spent the whole of ‘Muscle Memory’ singing with fans, taking selfies & at one point pinching someone’s cowboy hat.
By the last song the 900-capacity venue was matching temperatures in a sauna, and Kelsea jokingly asks the crowd if anyone has a hair tie. In true ‘girl at a gig’ fashion, someone from the front row held one up for her to throw back her hair and carry on.
Ending the set with the most appropriate track – ‘Doin’ My Best’ – Kelsea Ballerini had absolutely done her best and even more. As the QMU emptied, there was an air of achievement and excitement in the room; she’ll not be able to play in a venue as small as that again.. she knew it & we knew it.
SUBJECT TO CHANGE
THE LITTLE THINGS
Love Me Like You Mean It
LOVE IS A COWBOY/Cowboy Take Me Away
half of my hometown
IF YOU GO DOWN (I’M GOIN DOWN TOO)
Hole in the Bottle
YOU’RE DRUNK, GO HOME
I GUESS THEY CALL IT FALLIN
WHAT I HAVE
Miss Me More
DOIN MY BEST